Cody Sturgess & Imperial Melody – Rookie Ride to Rolex 2015

Cody and Imperial Melody riding to a 2nd place finish in the Open Intermediate A at Rocking Horse Winter 2 this past weekend


When Imperial Melody (Mel) came into Cody Sturgess’ life, Rolex was but a dream for the then 15 year old rider. Mel was supposed to be a resale project. Cody says, “I remember saying to my mom that I think there’s something special about this horse. I know you’re not supposed to keep these sale horses, but do you mind? And she said, ‘If you think she’s special then give it a go.’ That was ten years ago.”

So for 10 years, Cody and Mel’s partnership has been successfully developing and right now they are on target for the ride of their lives, Rolex 2015.

Mel is an off the track thoroughbred. She’s registered with the Canadian Jockey Club, and Cody found her through one of his previous coaches, Jason Pasco, who bred her. She was originally meant to race but when they took her to the track, she didn’t do very well. Jason contacted Cody and suggested that he take a look at the 2-year-old mare because she might be a good resale project. Cody says, “Because she was so quiet and a good mover, I really liked her and bought her right away. I brought her home, and within two months. I approached my mom with the idea that we should keep her.”

Certainly a wise decision, as Cody and Mel have moved to the Advanced level effortlessly and qualified for the Rolex CCI4* with their CCI3* result from Bromont last year, where they placed 11th.

Cody and Mel jumping to 11th place in the 2014 Bromont CIC3*.

Cody and Mel jumping to 11th place in the 2014 Bromont CIC3*.

To prepare for his first CCI4*, Cody has moved to Florida for the winter to train with Canadian team coach, Clayton Fredericks. “I wanted to train with Clayton as I am a short-listed member of the 2015 Canadian team and since I am in the training camps it made sense to have a continuity with my trainer. This way, I will work with him at shows and at his facility daily.”

The competition plan for the pair include Advanced at Red Hills, the CIC3* at Poplar, and then the Fork CIC3*. Cody is also thinking about doing a combined test at the Ocala April show, which is just two weeks before Rolex. Cody says, “That’s plan A. Horses always make a plan B, but generally, knock on wood, we’ve been really lucky with her that the first plan is generally the plan that we get to accomplish. In terms of fitness, she’s naturally a really, really fit horse, and she’s just a superb galloper. We don’t really do a lot of fitness until kind of two months before. Then we’ll build her up. I’m just really fortunate that I don’t have to keep pounding her legs.”

This little mare can gallop - Cody & Mel at the 2014 Bromont CIC3*

This little mare can gallop – Cody & Mel at the 2014 Bromont CIC3*

The one area that Cody will be focusing on is dressage. Cody says, “There is one area that Mel and I really need to work on… straightness and self-carriage. We have been working on that with Clayton every single day, and it’s coming along quite nicely and quickly. It’s great getting to train with the national team coach every single day. I’m very fortunate to be able to do that this year. I think everybody will be very surprised with the tests that she’ll be able to put in this year. She’s going phenomenally.”

The proof is in the results and Cody and Mel put in one of their best tests ever this past weekend at Rocking Horse, placing 2nd in the Open Intermediate A.

Cody acknowledges that his mom has been the most instrumental to his and Mel’s success. “Without my mom, I wouldn’t be here. She sacrifices so much and helps pay many of the bills on this horse. Without her, I definitely wouldn’t be anywhere near this stage and going to Rolex.”

Sponsors are often the driving force behind many riders and Cody is fortunate enough to have many that are contributing to his success. He says, “I’ve had a lot of sponsors that have been with me a long time, and believed in me even when Mel was at the lower levels.”

Family, friends and sponsors are all rooting for Cody and Mel on their Road to Rolex. We wish them much success. Go Canada!

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